AMA, National Quality Forum partner to standardize patient symptom data

To tackle the persistent challenge of diagnostic errors, the American Medical Association and National Quality Forum have partnered to establish standards for collecting and sharing patient symptom data in clinical care. 

Despite their critical role in leading clinicians to make accurate diagnoses, symptom data are not consistently documented in EHRs. The collaboration between NQF and AMA will seek early input from clinicians to develop actionable data standards, the groups said in a Feb. 21 news release. 

"[Patients] want the clinicians who care for them to be equipped with the right information at the right time to make the best diagnoses possible," Elizabeth Drye, MD, chief scientific officer at NQF, said in a news release. "For patient safety and to improve the care experience, it is vitally important to develop consensus on symptom data standards with input from clinicians who rely on these data to improve diagnosis and care."

The AMA will focus on recruiting physicians to participate in the effort, while NQF will test an approach to engage them in creating standards that support the interoperability of symptom data. The standards development project has a 30-month timeline, with NQF spending the first year identifying diagnostic excellence "use cases" and convening specialties to share input and develop consensus on key terms and characteristics of data. 

After that, NQF will share the recommendations on key symptom data standards and initiate the Health Level 7 consensus process. The project aligns with a recommendation to advance data standard from a 2015 National Academy of Medicine report on improving diagnosis. 

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